Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie

In this collection of short stories, a group of friends gather to discuss unusual murders which they have known about in the past. For the first seven stories, the participants are Raymond West who was an author and enjoyed very much visiting his Aunt Jane's house. Joyce Lempriere was an artist. Sir Henry Clithering an ex-commissioner of Scotland Yard. Dr. Pender was an elderly clergyman, and Mr. Petherick was a solicitor. Jane Marple was there, of course. She is described as wearing a black brocade dress with "Mechlin lace arranged in a cascade down the front of the bodice"She was also wearing black lace mittens as she knitted. My, how our vision of Jane Marple has changed over time.For the second set of stories, the participants were Sir Henry Clithering, Jane Helier who was a very attractive actress,  Dr. Lloyd, and Colonel and Dolly Bantry.

Each guest, in turn, told a story, and the other guests were challenged to name the murderer. Remarkable it was Miss Marple with her knowledge of village life who always name the correct person. I believe that I have read some of these stories before, possibly in anthologies or else seen them on television. The Blue Geranium being one of them. I believe that the murder in A Christmas Tragedy would be practically impossible to carry out in the time frame given.

This book was originally published in the United Kingdom in 1932 with the title of The Thirteen Problems. It was published in the United States in 1933 with the title The Tuesday Club Murders. It was the second Miss Marple book. It should be noted that the book is dedicated to Leonard and Katherine Woolley, archaeologists, whom Agatha Christie met in the middle east.

I have read this book for the 2018 Just the Facts, Ma'am mystery challenge and it will be entered in my detective notebook in the category of When - Time/date in the title.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Death at the Medical Board by Josephine Bell

World War II was going on and Ursula Frinton wanted very much to do her duty. It was necessary to pass an examination by the three physicians on the Medical Board before she would be considered healthy enough to participate in one of the women's corps on the home front. Ursula had had scarlet fever as a child and had heart trouble in her later years, but now she felt fine. She had even been to an outstanding heart specialist in London, Dr. Andrew Clegg, who found her perfectly healthy. Her uncle, however, had a Dr. Joseph Coleman write a letter to the board saying that she was unfit because of her heart condition.

Ursula came before the board and had had the examination. Then she went to the dressing room to put her clothes back on, and there she died. She was found on the floor, dead, with blood on her mouth. The police found a tiny cut on her mouth. It was later noticed that she was wearing a shade of lipstick when she died which she had never worn before.

Inspector Staines. of the CID branch of the Shornford Borough Police arrived and started the investigation of the death. It could be assumed that Rachel had died from a heart attack from the excitement of the medical examination. The doctors of the Medical Board suspected foul play, because they believed the findings of Dr. Clegg.

One of the doctors on the Medical Board wrote to her friend, Dr. David Wintringham about the possible murder. Wintringham had solved other mysterious cases for the police and the doctor suggested that he might be able to help with this on. Wintringham had been engaged in war work, but this case was quite intriguing so he managed to get a short vacation from work to go investigate. His investigation would lead to several who would wish Ursula dead, and to a very interesting method of murder. I found this to be a very interesting book, and Dr. David Wintringham to be a likeable detective. I do wish more of Ms. Bell's books were available.

This book was published in 1944, by Josephine Bell which was the pseudonym of Doris Bell Collier. She was a physician and started writing mystery novels in 1938. She wrote 45 mystery novels many of which dealt with medical topics and featured Dr. David Wintringham.

I have read this book for the 2018 Just the Facts, Ma'am mystery challenge. It will be entered in my detective notebook in my detective notebook in the category of Who - In the medical field.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton

The 5 pm train from Cannon Street ran to Stourford which it reached at 6.07. It reached Blackdown Station at 5.29. Just past Blackdown, it entered a tunnel which was two and a half miles long. This evening was unusual in that when the train reached the middle of the tunnel, it started to slow down because the engineer saw a red light, but then the engineer saw the light turn green, and he sped up again, and the train proceeded on its way.

William Turner, the guard on the train, who wondered about the slowdown started walking down the corridor of the train toward the engine. On his way, he noticed that the gentleman in the last compartment  of the first class carriage seemed to be asleep. As the train approached Stourford, Turner walked back down the corridor, noticed that the gentleman was still sleeping, and opened the compartment door to wake him. To his amazement, he found the this man was dead. He had been shot with a gun which now lay on the compartment floor.

Inspector Arnold of the CID came to Stourford to investigate the death of the death of Sir Wilfred Saxonby on the train. Sir Wilfred was semiretired from his business, but he usually went to the office once or twice a week to oversee the business of which he was chairman. On this, his last trip, he had requested of the guard that he have a compartment to himself, and the guard had locked the door to the corridor. The door on the other side of the compartment which led to the tracks was unlocked. Arnold found that the gun had the initials WS on it, but he could not find the permit which Sir Wilfred would have needed to purchase the gun. Also he could not find the ticket which Sir Wilfred used to board the train. The obvious verdict in this case was suicide, but Inspector Arnold was not satisfied with this; something about this did not seem right.

Inspector Arnold enlisted the assistance of his friend Desmond Merrion who was an amateur criminologist. Their investigation began when together, they walked the length of the tunnel to look for a possible light which the engineer might have seen. They continued their investigations until they had unraveled a complicated method of committing a murder for an equally complicated reason.

The main part of this book deals with finding how the murder was done, and who did it. Secondary to this, is the determination of why the murder is committed. There is little development of character, or of setting. It will appeal to the reader who is fascinated with detail and with complex methods of carrying out a murder. If the reader wants more from a mystery, this is not the book for them.

This book was published in 1936. The author is Miles Burton which is one of the pseudonyms used by Cecil John Street. Other pen names he used were John Rhode and Cecil Wayne. He was a founding member of the Detection Club. He was a friend of Dorothy L. Sayers, Lucy Malleson, and John Dickson Carr. This information has been taken from the introduction to this book by Martin Edwards.

I have read this book for the 2018 Just the Facts, Ma'am mystery challenge and it will be entered in my detective notebook in the category of Where - On a mode of transportation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Linnet Ridgeway was young, rich, and beautiful. In other words, she had everything.Then her oldest friend, Jacqueline de Bellefort, introduced Linnet to her great love, Simon Doyle, and Linnet decided that she wanted Simon too, and she got him too.

Simon and Linnet were going on their honeymoon cruise on the Nile on the boat, The Karnak. Jacqueline de Bellefort had been stalking them through Europe, and now she too was on the Karnak. She followed them and made comments about them which was really terribly upsetting for the young married couple. Also on the Karnak was Hercule Poirot. Linnet came to Poirot and asked if she could hire him to make Jacqueline stop her stalking. Poirot replied that there was nothing legally that he could do. He did, however, talk to Jacqueline about what she was doing and warned her about the evil that might result from her activities.

Anyone who has been on a tour with strangers knows that the beginning of the tour involves chatting and finding out about the other travelers. Poirot was no different and he found out about the rather large group who would become involved in the mysteries that would follow. His old friend Colonel Race boarded the boat and told Poirot that he was on the hunt for a very dangerous spy.

Then there occurred three murders. In addition to this, there was a robbery of a very valuable pearl necklace owned by Linnet. All of this presented quite a puzzle for  Poirot who in his usual way would find the solution.

This book was published in 1937. It was turmed into a movie with a star studded cast in 1978.  Death on the Nile was also in season 9 of the David Suchet Poirot series. I did watch this and found that it stayed faithful to the book with only a few changes. The scenery was very nice. I see that Kenneth Branagh is doing another movie version which will be released in 2019. I do hope he gets rid of that dreadful mustache.

I have read this book for the 2018 Just the Facts, Ma'am mystery challenge. It will be entered in my detective notebook in the category When - during a cruise.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Mrs. McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot had always believed that the solution of a murder lay in an examination of the personality of the victim. That is until he undertook to find out who had murdered Mrs. McGinty. Superintendent Spence came to get Poirot's help because he did not believe that the man convicted of murdering Mrs. McGinty was really guilty. Spence was the policeman who found the evidence on which her boarder, shy, retiring James Bentley, had been accused of the crime, and yet something seemed wrong about the conviction.

Hercule Poirot agreed to investigate, and went to the village of Broadhinny where he found absolutely miserable lodgings at a guest house. It seemed that Mrs. McGinty lead a dull and uneventful life. She cleaned houses and went to church, but she had no friends. She had rented out a room to Bentley after her husband's death. She had left a small amount of money to her niece, Bessy Burch, which really did not justify murder. Poirot could find no motive whatsoever in Mrs. McGinty's life for anyone to kill her.

Then Poirot found that Mrs. McGinty had purchased a bottle of ink. This seemed like such a small fact, but it signified that Mrs. McGinty, who never wrote to anybody, had suddenly found a reason to write. Next, Poirot found a newspaper article which she had read which was about 4 notorious crimes which had been committed in the past along with pictures of the women who had committed them. Could Mrs. McGinty have found one of these women while she was snooping in the houses of those people for whom she cleaned? Poirot then attempted to meet Mrs. McGinty's clients and this paid off when when he finally discovered the identity of the murderer.

Along the way, Ariadne Oliver, a detective story writer entered the story. She was in Broadhinny where the young playwrite, Robin Upchurch, was adapting one of her mystery novels into a play. Ariadne had some choice and humorous comments on mystery writing and on the adaption of books into plays.

This book was published in 1952, and there is a David Suchet Poirot episode ( Season 11, episode 1). I have read this book for the 2018 Just the Fact's Mystery Challenge, and it will be entered in my detective notebook in the category of What - Reference to a woman in the title.